Naples, Fla. — Sei Young Kim hit the putt of her life, a 25-foot birdie on the final hole of the CME Group Tour Championship to win $1.5 million, the richest prize in the history of women’s golf.
Kim closed with a 2-under 70 to beat an unlikely foe Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.
Charley Hull of England birdied her last three holes for a 66, the last one a 12-footer that gave her a tie for the lead. Kim, who looked shaky in missing three straight birdie chances from 12 feet, tugged her approach to the top of a crown at the back of the green. The winning putt — the money putt — was hit with perfect pace and broke sharply to the right as Kim pumped her fists in disbelief.
She finished a wire-to-wire victory for her third LPGA Tour title of the year and 10th of her career.
This was memorable for the finish and the reward.
Instead of a $500,000 first-place check and a $1 million bonus to a season points race, CME Globe wanted to award $1.5 million in official money to any of the 60 players who qualified for the season finale. That’s $500,000 more than the previous record prize, $1 million at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Kim, who never trailed during the final round, was feeling the heat coming down the stretch as Danielle Kang and then Hull took aim.
Kang, who made five birdies on the front nine, went quiet on the back until making a 30-foot eagle putt on the 17th. She hit 4-iron into 15 feet on the final hole, and her birdie attempt to tie for the lead was short. She closed with a 65.
Hull birdied five of her last seven, and when she saw the leaderboard on the 15th, she figured she would have to birdie everything the rest of the way. From short of the green on the par-5 17th, she hit putter up the slope to tap-in range to get within one shot of Kim. And on the 18th, she walked in the birdie putt.
Tyler Duncan made a 12-foot putt on the second hole of a playoff with Webb Simpson in the RSM Classic at St. Simons Island, Georgia, for his first PGA Tour title.
Playing two groups ahead of Simpson on Sea Island’s Seaside Course, Duncan birdied three of the last four holes in regulation for a 5-under 65.
He two-putted the par-5 15h for a birdie, made a 6-footer on the par-3 17th and a 25-footer on the par-4 18th.
Brian Stuard (Jackson) finished with a 67 and ended up tied for 10th, six strokes off the lead. Ryan Brehm (Michigan State) shot a 72 and finished tied for 50th.
Jon Rahm is $5 million richer after winning the season-ending World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai title at the United Arab Emirates.
The world No. 5 got up and down from a greenside bunker for birdie at the 18th hole to win the tournament by a stroke from Tommy Fleetwood.